Social distancing doesn’t have to mean isolation. The COVID-19 Pandemic is challenging for everyone, right across the globe. The fear, the isolation, the cessation of support services. Now, more than ever, a connection is of utmost importance. We are not just at risk of infection by the coronavirus, but at risk of becoming unwell due to isolation and emotional challenges.
Wellness depends on many factors like moderate exercise, a healthy diet, balance in life and some direction or purpose. But, of all the ways to maintain wellness, keeping connected to others is imperative. Human beings work better together. It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy space and free time. We all need some connection with other people. Even just a little. And for those of us who suffer from eating disorders or any mental health challenges, connecting with supports is a lifeline we can not let go flat.
The draw of isolation
At different stages of my illness and recovery, I have had a love/hate relationship with isolation. I wanted to be alone with my illness. It felt good to not be accountable or have demands on my time which interrupted my obsession with food. Without others to keep me accountable, I would be lulled into a false sense of comfort. I was able to engage in my binge/purge cycle without questioning or worried eyes upon me. Hell, I would have been relieved to have more opportunity to work from home, to endlessly refill my plate or empty my stomach without fear of judgment.
But there always came that point, when I couldn’t physically continue. When the comfort the food had given me stopped working. Those were the loneliest, darkest hours. And my most vulnerable. Those are the moments that broke my spirit the most. The problem was, my biggest critic was myself. I wasn’t escaping judgment, I was room-sharing with it.
If you find yourself vulnerable at the time, please remember you are not alone. Excess food or unhealthy eating behaviors may seem like the answer, but they are not. Connecting with support will help. I promise. It may seem like you are inviting judgment or that you will face extra pressure or scrutiny if you say you are struggling, but it won’t. You can recover on your terms.
Just connect. If you are vulnerable, tell someone. Don’t worry about imposing or worrying them; remember that people want to help and that hearing someone else’s struggle often helps us with ours.
Just connect. Sharing is caring as the care bears say. Just reach out, even a text or a phone call to someone who you can trust. Or go online and find a support group and share what it is like for you right now. Your struggle is important, your struggle can help another to realize they are not alone too. Just connect.
Just connect. If you are worried about someone who is alone at this time, just reach out. Say hi. Say you are thinking of them. Say you are there if needed. Call them randomly or send a text or a voice drop. Don’t pressure them to open up. Just be available and check-in often. Just remind them they are not alone. Share your own struggles even. Just connect.
Online/Phone supports to help
If you are vulnerable like me at this time, you will find an extensive rundown of virtual support groups in my 2018 beyond borders article. Additionally, here are some of the best recent updates I found that may be of use:
- The latest Asia Pacific Skype and Zoom meeting list for Overeaters Anonymous
- For cross addictions, such as alcohol, you may check out local 12 step programs sites for the latest meetings (many of which have moved online to zoom). For example, check out the Hong Kong group’s alcoholics anonymous meetings list for details on which are moved online for this period.
- The Hong Kong Eating Disorders Association is still running it’s hotline (+852 2850 4448) for those in need of support services. They have advised that there are limited services available at this time but dietician services, psychotherapy services, and carers groups may still be running. It is best to call the hotline for advice on the services that will most suit your needs and so they may update you on the situation at the time of your call.
- Other eating disorder charities globally are providing updated information and fact sheets (like this one from the UK eating disorder association) about managing the illness through this time.
I will keep you posted on any further updates I hear of.
Stay safe. Stay well. You are not alone. We are all in this together.
Aunty Pam x
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